Neutral switch

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by All U Get, Mar 15, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    Hi all,

    I’ve been having an issue starting the engine and it’s because the neutral lock out switch gets stuck. I have been able to tap the transmission with a little hammer and it starts right up. Does that switch ever need maintenance or should I get a replacement ready just in case? Can that switch be bypassed?
     


  2. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    3,594 posts, 1,658 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    What kind of engine and transmission?
     


  3. uncledom

    uncledom

    Joined Jun 11, 2011
    1,150 posts, 257 likes
    Hunter 41
    US Lewes
    I'd like to know exactly what your tapping. I've never seen an internal switch.
     


  4. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    2,564 posts, 1,177 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA
    When was the last time you checked/changed your trans fluid?? Without pictures it’s hard to guess, but I’ll take a go anyway.

    1) bypass switch is possible 1 the NSS (neutral safety switch) probably has two wires on it - one to the starter switch and one to the starter solenoid. Put a switch across those two wires - when in off position NSS works normally, when on NSS is bypassed.

    2) There May be a push rod in the trans under the switch you could clean or the switch may be bad. Fixing either requires much more knowledge of how it’s setup. Try lightly tapping the switch rather than the trans.

    “Internal” switch I’ve seen is on a velvet V drive. The switch is external, but the activator is inside the trans.
     


  5. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    5,943 posts, 1,486 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    My Yanmar (Kanzaki) starts in gear. Forward or reverse. I would bypass the neutral switch and just make sure to have the throttle at idle when starting to reduce drive lash.
     


    uncledom likes this.
  6. uncledom

    uncledom

    Joined Jun 11, 2011
    1,150 posts, 257 likes
    Hunter 41
    US Lewes
    My boat is similar to Gunni's in the fact that there is no NSS and it will start no matter the gear shifter position.
     


  7. SEMPERAVANTI41

    SEMPERAVANTI41

    Joined Jun 15, 2012
    444 posts, 30 likes
    Hunter 50 AC
    US Greenport, NY
    My guess is problem is with starter solenoid and/or pinion gear.
     


  8. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,983 posts, 3,897 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Could be as simple as the shift cable needs adjustment to properly find neutral.
     


  9. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    Velvet drive tranny. Perkins engine. My wife says she can hear it click when I press the start button. A gentle tap right by the switch seems to release the solenoid. (If it is a solenoid). One cable pulls the link to forward then through neutral to reverse. The tranny oil gets changed after 500 hours which is almost due.

    1820C892-9504-4CEC-8A37-0D4CA5AC5130.jpeg

    The switch is just behind the water bubbler.

    F01E4EE7-0395-42A2-AA33-DF5D12BEF32F.jpeg
     


    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  10. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    3,046 posts, 1,097 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Those things fail frequently. Cut the wires @ the unit and jump the leads a be rid of something that can easily cost you your boat! I assume you are aware enough to check you are in neutral before starting the engine. Those da*n things are a real menace, IMO.
    On an outboard on a light boat, it's a different story, but on your boat, it's unlikely, even if you do start her in gear even @ the dock, it will cause you any problems. At least not near the problems you might face if you can't start your engine in an emergency!
    Otherwise, they are cheap enough and easy enough to replace.
     


    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  11. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    3,594 posts, 1,658 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    On a power boat with lots of horsepower, the neutral lock is a good idea. On a sailboat that can do 0-6 knots in 30 seconds, a bit of overkill.

    Before you go with Capta's solution and in an abundance of caution, check all the connections between the interlock switch and the starting circuit. A corroded or poor connection can wreak havoc on a starting circuit or for that matter any other circuit.
     


    LloydB likes this.
  12. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    3,046 posts, 1,097 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Last time ours failed we were just entering Bocas del Dragon (Dragon's Mouth!) in Trinidad, a passage well known for its extreme currents. Fortunately, I knew exactly what it was and had it jumped in about 30 seconds and we didn't have a problem.
    I agree it could very well be corrosion or whatever, but this is something anyone with a Velvet Drive (Borg Warner) transmission should understand can happen anytime w/o any notice at all.
     


  13. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    And all this time I thought I owned the best engineered boat of its class. Just like so much of paradise having names like Dragons Mouth or Sailors Sinkhole, doesn’t exude a note of confidence. Velvet drive, ha, ha.
     


    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    capta likes this.
  14. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    A cruising friend who also has a Perkins with a neutral safety switch just had the same problem. He jumped the two leads with an alligator clip.
     


  15. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,983 posts, 3,897 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    I have the same neutral switch on my Perkin‘s but unclear how applying an alligator clip functions to fix the issue.
    • Is the switch stuck open?
    • The switch completes a circuit when in neutral?
    • The jump completes the circuit bypassing the internals?
    What size wire? How much current is flowing through the switch? What is needed for a replacement? Are they available?

    I know so many questions.
     


    LloydB likes this.
  16. capta

    capta

    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    3,046 posts, 1,097 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    The wires attach to the switch with eye lugs. You can just unscrew them and put a bolt/nut through them if you wish to one day replace the switch, of course wrapping this in electrical tape or heat shrink, or you can cut off the lugs and use a butt connector. No wire size changes or worries.
     


    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
  17. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,983 posts, 3,897 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    I’ve been rewiring my engine over the past 4 months. In this upgrade process resizing and re-routing wires from 1974 install. Understanding the wire load always helps before making a change. Guess I’ll need to break out the DVM and do some probing.
     


  18. sailme88

    sailme88

    Joined Jan 19, 2010
    169 posts, 51 likes
    Catalina Catalina 34
    US Casco Bay
    Ever follow a car down the road and see their back up lights on ? QED... the NSS can and does fail. the internal spring is the usual culprit...
     


    All U Get likes this.
  19. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,900 posts, 556 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    He jumped the two wires. Then to make it more easier, he undid the wires and screwed them both to one side on the switch.
     


  20. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    2,564 posts, 1,177 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA
    I keep telling ya 10ga is over kill for that circuit.
     


    jssailem likes this.


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